Logo Utrecht University

Fair Limits


Fergus Green involved in new UN Production Gap Report

On 2 December a research consortium led by the Stockholm Environment Institute and including the UN Environment Program released the second annual fossil fuel Production Gap Report To limit global heating to within 1.5°C as per the goal of the Paris Agreement, the world will need to decrease fossil fuel production by roughly 6% per year between 2020 and 2030. Yet, the report finds that countries are instead planning and projecting an average annual increase in fossil fuel production of 2%, which by 2030 would result in more than double the production consistent with the 1.5°C limit. The COVID-19 pandemic – and the “lockdown” measures to halt its spread – have led to short-term drops in coal, oil, and gas production in 2020. But pre-COVID plans and post-COVID stimulus measures point to a continuation of the growing global fossil fuel production gap, risking severe climate disruption. UN Secretary-General, António Gutteres, stated that the report “shows without a doubt that the production and use of coal, oil, and gas needs to decrease quickly if we are to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change”.

Fergus Green of the Fair Limits project, was a co-author of Chapter 4 of the Report, on “Fostering a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuel production”. It discusses how countries with lower dependence and higher financial and institutional capacity can undertake such a transition most rapidly, while those with higher dependence and lower capacity will require greater international support.

Fergus, a native Australian, was also the lead author of an op-ed published in the Sydney Morning Herald to coincide with the report’s launch, which spotlights Australia’s role in widening the production gap. Australia is a major developed country and the world’s third largest exporter of fossil fuels, yet it is planning—with bipartisan support—to expand its coal and gas production over the coming decade. This stance, argues Fergus and his two coauthors, is shameful and merits international condemnation.